“The measure of a man is not how many times you fall, but how many times you pick yourself up.”
Teboho Mafodi’s entrepreneurial journey began when he and a friend launched a small IT business. His friend worked full time so he ended up doing 100% of the work for only 50% of the profits. The business, even though it was profitable, was put under strain because of the one sided relationship. It was during this challenging time that he met a well-respected South African entrepreneur who offered to mentor him. Exiting from his partnership he began the next part of his business journey under the guidance of his new mentor.
Teboho started his training as his mentor’s driver, taking him to meetings and learning valuable insights as his mentor discussed business with him in the car. Teboho was soon promoted to personal assistant and later was asked to be the Project Manager at one of his mentor’s companies.
Loving his new position as a Project Manager, and in true entrepreneurial fashion, he spotted an opportunity to start his own business.
Launching Rehlohonolo IT & Business Solutions in early 2008, Teboho was soon running his new venture full-time. The business was growing nicely, but without the proper understanding of business basics and finance, it went into liquidation.
Looking back on this earlier business activity, he comments “I couldn’t separate my money from that of my business. It might seem like a simple thing now, but I didn’t have anyone to ask so I just never knew.”
Not to be defeated, Teboho started a new company in 2010 called the TM Group. Focusing on Construction and Property development, he used his earlier successes and failures to build a business that promises his clients with both quality and speed, two value propositions not found often together in that sector. His business is registered with the Construction Industry Development Board and, with a Level 5 grading, can complete projects up to R8 million.
A growing business needs constant attention, guidance and advice and so it was in 2013 that he applied and was accepted at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg. The Foundation Course assisted in the business basics and his continued journey through the Advanced Course has proven invaluable to him. “ The Branson Centre has helped me in the most amazing way. It has helped me formalise my business more. They have helped me put systems in place, formalize my record-keeping and better understand the operational aspects. The Branson Centre has also helped me see value in my business and encouraged me to constantly improve my business model.”
Since joining the Branson Centre, Teboho’s business has grown from 2 to 34 employees and his projected annual turnover for the year is R6,5 million. This is truly impressive given his humble beginnings. But it’s not just about the money. “As an individual you constantly grow and, hopefully, mature mentally and emotionally. You start realising that what you thought mattered before doesn’t matter now.” He goes on to say “It’s key to fully discover your purpose as an individual and know what you want for yourself.”
When asked about his biggest business challenge, Teboho answers without hesitation “It’s the fact that I am an entrepreneur. Banks and many other institutions regard us as high-risk because we run our own business. Our employees qualify for finance when they want to buy a property but the same banks don’t want to invest in us.”
He has great plans for his business. His company has joined the property development game and they also diversifying their client base to become more sustainable.
When asked to share a piece of advice with other African entrepreneurs, Teboho commented “Know what you want when starting out and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.”